The Leisure Screw-Up
The tip-top, first-tier American blunder is of course from the late 1970s. According to the Fashion Encyclopedia, one Jerry Rosengarten matched jackets and pants made of then-new polyester fabrics to create a single suit. This wonder garment would not be for work. Oh, no. This super suit was for leisure. And the doomed "leisure suit" was born. Luckily, Rosengarten and the rest of us wised up to the coyote ugly of leisure suits, and they departed from our department stores. Smart marketers, such as Under Armour ( UA), eventually worked out that synthetic fabrics work best when people sweat, not sit around. And $5.4 billion in market cap was created.
Driving the Road to ErrorMistakes can overrun an entire industry. The single best account of a whole business gone bad is the combined mishandling of the American auto industry in David Halberstam's The Reckoning. Halberstam did the diagnostics on Ford's ( F) failure on all cylinders to stave off competitor Nissan ( NSANY). Economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who reviewed Halberstam's book in 1986 for The New York Times, traced the screw-up to exactly one place: the finance men at Ford. "These